A Decade of Terror: The best horror films of the 2010s

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The Babadook–Courtesy of Screen Australia and Causeway Films

The Babadook (2014)

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Themes of mental illness have been a horror mainstay this decade, but no examination has been quite as accurate and terrifying as Jennifer Kent’s The Babadook. Following a widowed mother who’s yet to allow herself to grieve the loss of her lover, Kent’s film operates as both a monster film and a metaphor for depression, grief, and how those feelings must be addressed lest we lose ourselves to them.

Surprisingly, despite its widespread acclaim, The Babadook has split audiences down the middle in the years since its release. Some view it as a masterpiece, and others… well, they really don’t. Whether you love it or loathe it, though, it’d be foolish to deny the brilliance of Essie Davis’ central performance.

As Amelia, Davis appears distant and half-awake on her best days. Davis forces us to feel the fog of her character’s mind, and it’s devastating to watch her be overwhelmed by her poor mental state and struggles as a single mother.

As the film progresses, her suppressed emotions begin to physically manifest themselves in the monster that’s tormenting her and her young son. The Babadook eventually calls for Davis to flip from heartbreaking to horrifying, and the actress does so phenomenally. It’s one of the greatest portrayals of mental illness and losing yourself to it that we’ve ever witnessed, and it belongs to one of the decade’s best horror films.